Companies big and small have been scrambling to get a leg up in a business where dealing with record labels, artists and piracy creates legitimate problems. Music streaming did not start or end with the Swedish company Spotify, but in recent years the company has taken over the music streaming market. Beginning with only a couple employees, 1,500 people are now employed at Spotify. The company currently boasts 45 million free users and 15 million paying customers who typically are charged $10 a month. Spotify often offers free trials and student discounts that lessen the cost to $4.99. Users have access to more than 30 million songs on the Spotify music database.
At New College, students have largely shifted from torrenting music illegally due to the potential legal consequences and the slowing of the campus Internet. Spotify is as popular at New College as anywhere else in the country, with 23 out of 30 students randomly polled saying they used the service. Ten out of the 23 surveyed paid for the Spotify service with an average of $4.99 a month.
Another service popular with New College students is YouTube, most commonly as a supplement to using an additional music-streaming provider. Along with YouTube, Pandora and 8tracks also offer ways to listen to music online for free, providing an alternative to paid options through companies such as Spotify and Amazon.
“I have used Spotify for longer than I think a lot of people have,” third-year Daniel Anderson-Little said. “They now offer playlist and browsing features.”
A few NCF users reported they have not been able to use Spotify due to incompatibility with their computer software. Others are not attracted by Spotify’s discounts since they usually require a sign-up process or a link to the user’s social media profiles.
Last year, Apple acquired the streaming service Beats Music for $3 billion in an attempt to take the label of most popular streaming company away from Spotify. This was an important move for both Beats and Apple because Beats had become surprisingly influential in the music industry. Apple wanted to take acquisition of Beats to further their control of the music market. Apple has been able to get music rights from long-time popular holdouts such as the Beatles and Metallica. Beats creators Dr. Dre and Jimmy Lovine have stated that Apple’s business model greatly influenced their own company. Beats also benefited by being absorbed by one of the largest companies to date and having access to the best technology thereby gaining precedent.
According to The Associated Press, “The growing popularity of music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify has been reducing sales of songs and albums, a business that iTunes has dominated for the past decade. U.S. sales of downloaded songs slipped one percent last year to $2.8 billion while streaming music revenue surged 39 percent to $1.4 billion.”
The Apple streaming system is priced at $9.99 a month, although it had originally been advertised at $7.99 a month – a price that was supposed to be a more attractive selling point and make them more competitive. The main complaint is that iTunes users still have to pay for individual songs on iTunes, but even paying for individual albums is becoming less popular.
“I do not think Apple will be able to convince people like me who do not use Apple products to use their streaming service,” fourth-year Aaron Olinger said. “Even if it is Android compatible.”